Housing, Steam, and Legislative Priorities

Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho 

I attended a forum on March 8 with the Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho. At the Forum, Olmsted County announced that we are moving forward on an affordable housing project located on Mayowood road.  The project is in the early stages.  A basic concept has been agreed upon and recently, at the March 6 HRA meeting, the Olmsted HRA contracted with Center City Housing Corporation (a non-profit) to assist with development and grant application.  Olmsted will be applying to the Minnesota Housing Agency for funding.

Additionally, I discussed with Commissioner Ho the importance of assisting the low-income older generation (65+) to be able to stay in their homes. Part of “Living Well In Place” is to investigate the impact of property tax on low-income seniors

Steam coming from manholes on 4thStreet SE

Repairs to the leaky vaults and steam line are expected to begin this May.

Last November it was discovered that the vaults were leaking which allowed water to seep in and come into contact with the 307-degree steam line.  When this happens, the vault fills with steam that escapes through the manhole covers.  The vaults should be repaired this spring.

Did You Know?

Some the buildings that are heated with Steam produced at the Olmsted Waste to Energy Facility include: Olmsted Medical Center Hospital, Olmsted County Government Center, Rochester City Hall, Rochester Public Library, Federal Medical Facility, Rochester Community and Technical College-Heintz Center, and the entire Mayo Civic Center

Legislative Priority

It has been a priority for Olmsted County to convince the State to fix the MNLARS computer system.  I am happy that Governor Walz signed Chapter 1/HF 861 into law.  This bill provides $11.2 million funding for the MNLARS system improvements and $2 million to DVS to temporarily increase their capacity to meet customer service demands.    (Additionally, please note that Olmsted County added more employees in February to the Licensing area so that we could reduce the wait time that our customers were realizing due to the additional work to process the REAL ID applications.)

Olmsted County is watching and ready to support other bills in the Legislature that will benefit our county.  Those Legislative initiatives include:

  • Modification of child-care licensing requirements
  • Improving and modernizing the electronic voting system
  • Requiring user testing (to find and fix software errors) of all information technology systems before counties are forced to use them
  • Improving the housing supply (several bills have been introduced to address the issue of the lack of affordable housing units)
  • Compensation Limits
  • Increase in funding for MFIP
  • Pathways to Prosperity and Well-Being (if funded, this will allow Olmsted County to pilot a program that is designed to move clients from county assistance to financial independence
  • Tobacco 21
  • Local Road Improvement (HF2121 will appropriate $100 million from bond proceeds for highway construction or repair for local roads with regional significance, grants to counties to assist in paying the cost of rural road safety improvements on county/state aid highways. (Olmsted County has several projects that are waiting for funding.)